OK, let’s talk about Santa Claus. This big man with a red suit visits your house one night a year, sliding down the chimney with his big bag of gifts. What if this guy really existed … but what if you did not know about him? What if Santa Claus was a real guy who really did the entire “Night Before Christmas” thing, but you had never heard the story? Now if Santa Claus did exist, and you did not know anything about him, how would you react at midnight on December 24 if you heard a “thud” on your rooftop? As you would spring to your feet to see what was the matter, you would find a grown man in a red suit packing (or unpacking … from your angle it is tough to say) an overgrown pillow case worth of stuff in your living room! What would you do? I know what you would do. You would either call the cops or grab your shotgun! But why would anyone do that to good old Saint Nick?
If we were unaware of the existence of Santa Claus, we would not be thinking that ANYONE breaking into our house at midnight was there to bring us stuff. Living in this fallen world has convinced us that people come to our houses unannounced to take stuff, not give stuff. This is why we lock our doors, install security systems, and “let the machine get it” when the phone rings at dinner time. For the most part, this world has shown us that people come to us primarily for their benefit, and not for our own … and so we are skeptical.
With this as a backdrop, I want to remind you all of a true story of someone who comes to us to give rather than to take, and it is found in John 10:9-10.
In John 10:9-10, Jesus says this: “I am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” In these verses, Jesus is saying that He has come to us not to take, but to give something wonderful: “life … to the full.” If Jesus came to give, why do we have the perspective that what He really wants is to take from us?
Now, you may not have thought about this before, but we really do (sometimes) have the perspective that Jesus comes to take from us, not to give. We sometimes feel that He came to “take” the fun out of our lives. Many of the things we think we would want to do and that we are tempted to do are things that exist on the forbidden list in God’s economy. Don’t have sex outside of marriage. Don’t get drunk on alcohol and don’t use drugs. Don’t tear each other down with your words. Don’t harbor anger towards another. Sometimes we can think that all these commandments take more than they give. Our experience in the world has conditioned us to think that anyone coming to us wants to take, not to give, so when we see what Christ is offering, we are waiting for the catch.
However, as I read John 10, I am struck by this incredible reminder that a thief takes, but Jesus always gives. In fact, He not only gives, but He gives unbelievable gifts! Jesus comes to us offering the best life possible. Being the creator and author of life, He knows what is best for us, and He guides us through the gates of everyday life to the green pastures of abundant living. All the things we thought He was taking away through commandments are really just directions guiding us to the location of abundant living.
Therefore, the next time you read the Bible and see commands from Christ, do not imagine that these are the words of someone who has come to take from us. Do not be unaware of Jesus’ existence or be skeptical of His intentions—He has come for our benefit, to give us the abundant life!
Jesus’ statement “I am the sheep gate” is the fourth revelatory statement John mentions arguing that Jesus is God.
This devo is a part of the 2022 Wildwood Christmas Daily Devotional, “God with us.” You can find the entire Christmas Devotional here.